Danish WW2 Pilots

Kaj Olaf Mortensen

(1915 - 1994)

Kaj Olaf Mortensen arrived in New Zealand in late 1940 onboard the four-masted barque Pamir. He enlisted in the RNZAF in 1943, but seems to have served in the Army as well.

Kaj Olaf Mortensen was born on 13 December 1915 in Grenaa in Denmark. He was the son of painter Viggo Mortensen and Martha Mortensen (née Jensen).[1]

Pamir

Mortensen almost certainly arrived in New Zealand in December 1940 onboard the then Finnish owned four-masted barque Pamir. He was a mess-boy. In any event, Mortensen deserted the ship while it was berthed at New Plymouth. On 19 February 1941, a warrant for his arrest was published in the New Zealand Police Gazette.[2] He was sentenced one year’s probation for ship-desertion on 14 March 1941.[3]

The Finnish barque <i>Pamir</i>, onboard which Kaj Olaf Mortensen arrived at New Plymouth, New Zealand. (MfS)
The Finnish barque Pamir, onboard which Kaj Olaf Mortensen arrived at New Plymouth, New Zealand. (MfS)

Pamir left New Zealand on 20 February 1941 for the Seychelles. When it returned in August 1941, it was seized as a prize of war by the New Zealand government.[4] Mortensen married Morva Joan Mason on 18 October 1941.[5] Mortensen was naturalised in New Zealand on 21 September 1941.[6]

In Service

The Danish Association in New Zealand donated an ambulance to RNZAF at a small ceremony in Auckland on 10 October 1943. Mortensen was one of a small number of Danes in service participated in the ceremony.[7]

Danish volunteers in front of the ambulance. From left to right: Peter Hansen, Kaj Olaf Mortensen, Knud Graae, Arne Leth Møller, ambulance driver Mrs. Andersen, and Mrs. Audrey Nina Haderup. (Danish Royal Library)
Danish volunteers in front of the ambulance. From left to right: Peter Hansen, Kaj Olaf Mortensen, Knud Graae, Arne Leth Møller, ambulance driver Mrs. Andersen, and Mrs. Audrey Nina Haderup. (Danish Royal Library)

Information on Mortensen’s service is scarce and a bit confusing. He seems to have enlisted in the RNZAF in 1943 (NZ4311434)[8] but also served the Army (808599).[9] He served in 22 Battalion, which operated in Italy in 1944.[10]

Endnotes

[1] DNA: Parish register, Grenå Parish.

[2] Ancestry: New Zealand Police Gazette, 26 February 1941.

[3] Ancestry: New Zealand Police Gazette, 2 April 1941.

[4] Wikipedia: Pamir (ship), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamir_(ship) (accessed 21 June 2019).

[5] Ancestry: Kaj Olaf MORTENSEN - LifeStory (accessed 10 July 2018).

[6] Kay Olaf Mortensen in the New Zealand, Naturalisations, 1843-1981.

[7] Royal Library: Tjenstgørende i R.N.Z.A.F (accessed 11 June 2019).

[8] Information from Errol Martyn.

[9] Ancestry: New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, 1939-1948.

[10] http://allieret.natmus.dk/person.aspx?85120 (accessed 11 June 2019).